With 21 companies formed and over £16m in further funding raised by its graduates, the Cyber Security Academic Startup Accelerator Programme (CyberASAP) is delivering positive outcomes for the cyber security sector. Our new report shows how. 

From countering online extremism to advancing maritime cyber security, developing robust AI deception solutions to delivering secure e-voting, CyberASAP helps nurture academic teams’ innovations in a diverse range of vital cyber security applications.

Launched in 2017 and funded by the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), CyberASAP has provided 117* academic teams – from universities across the UK – with a unique package of support to help them develop the commercial potential of their research. The lifelong skills and experience gained through the programme help expand the knowledge base making academics better able to seize opportunities where their research can make an impact. Download here.

The programme runs in two phases with the most promising innovations funded to develop a proof of concept demonstrator.  As a result of the programme 21 companies have been formed to date; two have been acquired (one by Google), and alumni of the programme have raised over £16m in further funding to develop their prototypes.

These are just some of the outcomes highlighted in a new Impact & Insights Report, published today, outlining some of the key successes of CyberASAP – a programme which was cited as a successful Case Study in the UK Government’s July 2020 UK Research and Development Roadmap.

Providing a comprehensive overview of all aspects of the programme the Report, compiled by KTN – who deliver CyberASAP in partnership with Innovate UK – also highlights how the programme makes funding opportunities accessible to universities from all regions of the UK and to those outside the Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR) and Russell Group. 60% of participating universities are neither ACE-CSR nor Russell Group and 79% are outside London.

“It is great to see so many strong, innovative ideas emerge out of the research base from right across the UK.  In helping deliver the CyberASAP programme Innovate UK is proud to play its part in enabling talented academic teams to build the pipeline of products and services that will enrich the UK’s cyber security sector” commented Agata Samojlowicz, Deputy Challenge Director – Digital Security by Design, Innovate UK

CyberASAP is led by KTN’s Robin Kennedy and Emma Fadlon, who added:

“When designing the programme with DCMS and Innovate UK we discussed the importance of attracting a diverse range of participants. Several potential barriers to translation of academic research were identified including: access to internal funding, academics having time to explore the commercial potential of their research; and commercial skills development. By having a grant funded, phased, stage-gated process over an 11 month period we were able to support a wider range of innovations from across the UK academic base at various stages of development. 

In the first phase all participants have access to the same personal and commercial training and development. For the second phase an expert panel selects those projects with the most promising validated innovations. The teams receive significant funding to develop a proof of concept demonstrator and receive further training to prepare for commercialisation.  

Surveys of the participants confirmed that our approach opened up opportunities that would not have been available to the teams as academics, irrespective of the stage in their career. Also, our stakeholders confirmed that the programme was addressing the sector’s needs to get innovative public sector funded cyber security solutions out into the market as soon as possible.” 

The report contains data about the status of many of the projects which have been through the programme (Years 1-4 inc) as well as qualitative research about how the programme content is rated by participants. 82% of survey respondents gave the programme a maximum score of 5/5 and 96% said they would recommend the programme to other academics.

The most valuable aspect of CyberASAP? The programme existing, and me doing it! Everything“.

David Chadwick, Verifiable Credentials. Status: Acquired.

[CyberASAP] seemed perfectly designed for us: academics with a desire to commercialise academic cybersecurity research but no clear understanding of what Step 1 looked like

Jack Hogan, Shoji. Status: Startup

“CyberASAP opened my eyes to an environment beyond academia, wherein academic insight directly lights the world

Mark Bishop, Fact 360. Status: Spinout

According to the UK Government’s latest 2021 Cyber Sectoral Analysis report, the UK’s cyber security sector has now expanded to be worth £8.9 billion. In a sector as vital and dynamic as this, the need to stimulate and support a pipeline of new products and services is essential. Academics can play a fruitful role here, but they need to gain a completely new set of skills and knowledge to help them convert their research into viable products and services.

CyberASAP provides them with just this, offering a unique package of workshops, mentoring and interventions that enable academic innovation to find its way out of the lab and into the market. This doesn’t always happen immediately: the programme has a long-lasting impact, with graduates continuing to embed their new skills and apply their commercial knowledge to attract funding and develop and commercialise their innovations for years to come.

Year 5 of the programme is currently underway with 10 teams selected from an initial 23 to progress to the final stage where they are funded and supported in developing a Proof of Concept. Find out more about the teams here.

The programme culminates in a Demo Day where teams demonstrate their Proofs of Concept. The next Demo Day is 18 February 2022. Interested in attending? Register your interest here.

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If you want to get involved, or get in touch with the programme, register your interest here

CyberASAP is funded by the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) and delivered in partnership with  KTN and Innovate UK.

*includes current (Year 5) cohort

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